I don’t know if it’s fair to say that great sports nicknames are completely a thing of the past, but they’re certainly nowhere near as plentiful as they once were. Far too many (particularly in hockey) take the format of “take first syllable of surname, add -er” or “take given name and make diminutive.” I’d love a new “Taz” or “Little Ball of Hate.”
Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion’s nickname was organic. He was one of the early practitioners of the slap shot and “Boom Boom” represented the sound of his shots hitting the end boards in practice.
He obviously was able to hit the net with that shot at least occasionally, given his 393 career goals and his two goal-scoring and point-scoring titles. In 1960-61, he became the second player ever to score 50 in a season, winning a season-long battle with Frank Mahovlich of the Leafs. He was also the player who passed the suspended Maurice Richard in 1955 to win the scoring championship, much to the chagrin of the Habs faithful. A number never really forgave him for this. It was the closest the Rocket ever would come to winning one.
This card wasn’t one of the five I needed, but was one of three that needed upgrading. I had one that had been signed, and although I wasn’t certain it was signed by Geoffrion himself, it was at least done by the hand of an adult. (I had a Richard that I eventually concluded was signed by a 10-year-old back in the 50s and I erased it. I probably should have left it alone, but it was 1987 and cards were cheap.) Now, with the ready availability of autographs and particularly online images of autographs, I can conclude that whoever signed my card, it wasn’t Bernie. Out it goes.
This leaves me with Beliveau (portrait) and Vic Stasiuk (also signed, but as yet unverifed) to upgrade, plus my missing five.
I found this Ian Cushenan for a good price and picked it up. Ian isn’t really a household name these days. He was a depth defenseman who played parts of five seasons and was a full-time regular just once – for Chicago in 1957-58. He had a nickname, though, and Parkhurst was nice enough to tell us about it on the back.
This is why I like old Parkhurst. Not only do I learn that Ian Cushenan had a nickname and who gave it to him, I learn how he came to the Habs, what happened to Junior Langlois to force the issue and even the timing of the whole thing. That’s a real card back. Stuff some more relevant stats in there and it’s perfect.
I don’t have a lot of late 50s Parkhurst and a lot of what I do have isn’t in great shape. They’re difficult sets because they only have Montreal and Toronto players and both teams command a premium. It’s like a baseball set that only had Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox.